Police who investigate burglaries in Auckland

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Another article crime in South Auckland. I find this quite interesting and have met the officers in the field on one occasion when we were called to site by a customer following a break-in.

Counties Manukau officers show us what is involved in investigating a burglary.

You’ve been burgled, you report it to police. But what happens next? We take a ride with detectives in part four of our ‘Spotlight on Burglaries’ campaign.

Sitting in with the tactical crime unit gives you an appreciation of the job of solving burglaries.

It’s a wet Wednesday morning at Otahuhu police station, we’ve got a fresh file from overnight. It’s one of hundreds the Counties Manukau West team has on the go.

Counties Manukau West tactical crime unit’s constables Janelle Pownceby and Jamie Tovi.

They cover Mangere, Otahuhu and Papatoetoe in south Auckland – but we could be anywhere in New Zealand.

On any night there can be up to six reports of burglary in just this area alone.

On the road: Constables Janelle Pownceby and Jamie Tovi head out to the scene of a burglary.

I’m sitting with Detective Constables Janelle Pownceby and Jamie Tovi. Youngsters have tried to break into a liquor store in the early hours.

Police believe it may be connected to a nearby pharmacy burglary around the same time.

Today we’ll be going to the scene, looking for leads and canvassing the area.

A man’s licence is found in the area canvassed near the liquor store.

En route we get to talking about statistics. Pownceby says while they can point to hotspots "they don’t distinguish between planned and opportunistic offending".

The opportunistic burglaries, where the garage may be left open and something is taken, could be prevented.

We arrive on scene. The liquor store is closed and we can see the offenders have tried to rip a steel bar off the wall.

Someone will have to come back to the store owners, so we head off to canvass an alleyway nearby where the offenders ran through.


Detectives are door knocking around the alleyway, offenders may have dumped items while fleeing.

Pownceby takes the time to offer prevention advice to some neighbours. A spotlight can stop offenders from hiding in front gardens, she says.

We move on to a large property and this time there might be something.

The homeowner found a man’s driver’s licence on his front lawn – he doesn’t know the 20-year-old man pictured.

It’s something to follow up. A call comes through from the station, CCTV footage is needed to be collected for another case.

We stop at the convenience store, a repeat victim, the cameras have good coverage of the store.

Back at the station detectives will pick up some other files and follow up leads found this morning.


There’s more to solving crimes than what is shown in the latest crime drama on television.

But for detectives Jamie Tovi and Janelle Pownceby piecing together the puzzle of a case is still rewarding.

"I really enjoy the work, I really do. It’s complex work at times, but there’s a great sense of teamwork in the team," Tovi says.

His decade of service has covered a number of roles, from community policing to working on the district’s "crime car" that responds to serious crimes.

"A lot of today has been initial stuff, but it’s a start for the file and the victims … some files can take time. But for the victims, it’s about knowing we are working on it."

Pownceby has been in Counties Manukau West’s tactical crime unit for just over a month, and four years in police overall.

"It’s an interesting role, we’re dealing in burglaries mainly," she says.

On the investigation process and finding leads, she says it’s rewarding when "you can make something out of nothing".

As part of ‘Spotlight on Burglaries’ campaign we are calling for south Aucklanders to report your burglary to us to highlight the issue of burglaries and those affected by it.

You can report these incidents on our Neighbourly page or by emailing edmc.

– Stuff